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Parents can rekindle their intimacy to create a strong marriage

Let’s face it, most parents with young children do not make sex a top priority. However, sex is usually the one thing that differentiates us from our other relationships. And if that part of your relationship starts to slip, it is extremely difficult to function on many other levels.

A lot of couples have the belief system that they will get back into their “groove” once their children are older. But it doesn’t work that way. A lack of intimacy pushes you farther and farther away from each other, and the passion, romance, playfulness, flirtiness and attraction disappears. This is why so many marriages fail later in life. You may be the best partners, but without a sexual component to your relationship, you are looking at a lifetime with just a partner--and not a lover.

The best gift you can give your children is a strong and connected relationship between parents. Making small changes within your marriage will not only heighten awareness about yourself and your partner, but help reconnect you to the person you fell in love with.


Do bring back the gratitude

Raising kids requires a great deal of work. With the business of life, appreciation for one another tends to diminish and spouses often forget to say thank you to each other. We forget to ask, “How was your day?” We no longer have time for intimate conversations, and we are not as engaged as we used to be. Generally speaking, men tend to want more intimacy to feel close, while women feel close when they receive household help.

Sexual intimacy arises from emotional intimacy--and one cannot happen without the other. Emotional intimacy comes from feeling appreciated. It allows the romance and passion to reawaken. So do not forget to say thanks often, even for the little things.

Do identify foreplay

Every positive thing you do in a relationship is considered foreplay. Take a minute to think about what acts or statements of kindness would make you feel good, loved and appreciated. Write these down as specifically as you can and share them with your partner. Make a copy of your list, exchange it with your partner, and keep your partner’s list close by so you can use it as a cheat sheet. We all need reminders.

Do update your sexuality

Talk about what feels good sexually and how to make it better. While this can be difficult for parents because it is easy to take things personally and get defensive, it is essential. Think about it this way: You are completely different people than you were even one year ago. Your bodies have changed regardless of giving birth or not. Your needs have changed, and your fantasies have changed. This is an exercise in updating your sexuality. It should happen on a yearly basis, maybe around your anniversary. Some things may never change, and this should be noted as well. If you are not talking about it, your sex is not okay.

Before having any conversations that could stimulate a strong emotional response, always ask your partner if this is a good time to talk. If you are on the receiving end, be honest with yourself and your partner about when it is good to talk. Nobody wants to hear feedback about their love making when they are stressed or grumpy.

Do create a wish list

If you could do anything you want sexually, what would you do? Do you want to make love in the backseat of your car? Do you want your partner to kiss your neck, while you do the dishes? Write down some of your hidden wishes and desires. Be very specific. Then share them with your partner. And next time you are feeling bored, you will know where to turn.

Do embrace fantasy

Think sexy. Allow yourself time to think sexy thoughts during the day. You are more likely to reconnect with your own sexual energies if you are not saving opportunities to be sexual until the end of the day. Keep in mind that the process of sharing can be a very fragile area. Fantasies are all about imagination, exploration and playfulness. However, very few couples are able to share their fantasies with each other. If you share your fantasies, the result will be intimacy, excitement and romance.

It is important to create ideas within the boundaries of your marriage. The fantasy must be tolerated by both partners, and it cannot completely turn off the other person. While each partner should have total freedom to speak the truth, it is vital for partners to refrain from ridicule because sharing a fantasy takes great trust. And the point is to build trust and not decrease it.

Additionally, be sure to think of fantasies as play. Do not take it personally if your partner wants you to be a doctor, a stranger or a waitress. We all need a little more play in our lives. Nobody knows exactly why certain fantasies are erotic to individuals. They just are.


Do not use appreciation just when you want sex

Nothing feels worse than when your partner is being extra nice to you--just because he or she wants sex. The intention is to use non-sexual foreplay on a regular basis as a building process to enhance closeness.

Do not assume that sexy lingerie and whipped cream is the way to a woman’s heart

This is a big myth in the “getting creative” track for sex after kids. Many women hear whipped cream and just think, “Oh no, more laundry!” To be successful, you must personalize your creativity, and it does not have to be kinky. Right now, closeness of any kind is considered a success.

Do not forget to schedule sex

We schedule exercise and nights out with friends, so why not schedule sex and intimacy with your partner? Remove the judgement and focus on the goal. Carving out non-kid time on a regular and predictable basis must be a priority. Your relationship will strengthen if you can achieve this. Couples who play together--whether it is sexual play or going on a hike--have a different levity around them.

Do not be afraid to masterbate

Masturbation is normal and necessary. Accept it as part of your marriage. Studies show that couples whose sex lives remain strong and healthy after having children embrace all kinds of sexual experiences, including masturbation alone or together. But if masturbation was not discussed or accepted before children entered the picture, this addition to your sex life could backfire. Try having a conversation about masturbation with your partner in a curious way and see what happens.

Do not underestimate the power of a “quickie”

Give yourself permission to have a quickie. Quickies raise oxytocin, which helps to create a sense of emotional intimacy, relaxation, contentment and trust. It also helps to relieve stress, improve mood and lower blood pressure.

Even better, you and your partner can easily boost oxytocin all day long. A 20- to 30-second hug, a loving kiss or a sexy text can raise oxytocin levels in both men and women. Remember that the quality of a sexual experience is more important than quantity. So do whatever it takes to remain sexually connected to your spouse.

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Intentional acts of love, kindness and sensuality stimulate the part of our brain that thinks, “Yes, I am a sexy person and not just a parent.” These small connections may not be explicitly sexual, but they create transferable desire that adds up over time and contributes to lasting sexual desire and fulfilling sexual experiences.

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Deborah Rubin, LCSWLicensed Clinical Social Worker Individual and Couple's Therapy

Deborah Rubin is a licensed clinical social worker residing in Boulder, Colorado. She has worked with adults and adolescents for 13 years in numerous therapeutic job settings as well as sexual health education. Having completed undergraduate wo...

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